If Nelson Cruz Wants to Cry About Dugout Video Restrictions, He Can Talk to Marwin Gonzalez

Photo: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

So cheating happened in baseball recently, if you haven’t heard. The Astros did some really shady stuff involving dugout video replay and trash cans. Because of that, the MLB has banned instant video replays from every dugout across the league. They enforce the rule with security guards that roam the facilities.

Since the Astros were busted, we’ve found out the dugout replay cheating scandal was rather widespread across the league. The MLB has since clipped the Red Sox for it, and we’ve seen all sorts of shady reports out of the Yankees dugout… If you think these three teams are the only ones to use instant video replay for questionable reasons, then come by my house this winter because I will have snow to sell you.

Nelson Cruz doesn’t want to hear about the MLB’s logic behind their very-reasonable decision to ban dugout replay, though. He just wants his screen back. (Quotes via The Athletic – Dan Hayes)

“My teammates, they ground out or they popped out and they want to figure out what they did wrong. But there’s no video. … I don’t see why MLB did that. They didn’t ask us. They didn’t get permission or (recognize) how it was going to affect us as hitters. I thought it was — in some way, it was bad. They should at least have asked us what we think about it.

“It feels like we’re in Triple-A or the minors.”

“Even for us, as a hitter, we want to see the strike zone. I took that pitch. Is that pitch a strike? He called that a strike. Should I swing at that pitch? Is that the right call? Should I take that or should I swing the next pitch? That breaking pitch looks like it’s breaking more than my eyes are looking for. That’s the way we do adjustments as a hitter. If you ask around the league, everybody will tell you the same thing — that it’s getting out on control. It is what it is. We all have to deal with it. It doesn’t matter how much you complain. You’ve got to go there and just do your job. That’s what we’re doing.”

Nelson Cruz | Quotes via The Athletic

I can understand Cruz’ frustration. He’s really falling behind in 2020. His stats (and MLB rank) of .354 BA (8th) | 1.2 WAR (1st-DH) | 1.125 OPS (5th) | 8 HR (5th) | 23 RBI (2nd) | .863 Off Win % (2nd) magnify his struggles to get going without the instant replay. This is sarcasm.

Zero Accountability

The words that actually fell out of Nelson Cruz’ mouth had me baffled. What did he expect to happen after the MLB has been gutted open and slowly stitched back together with question after unrelenting question over the Astros cheating scandal? Every day, Houston players are being hit by pitches. Why? Because they were using that same instant replay system Cruz is missing, to pick up signs and other shit they weren’t supposed to.

Nelson Cruz is complaining about having to go FOUR at-bats without being allowed to analyze his swing and weaknesses against pitchers. Even if you eliminate the cheating factor, why should Cruz (who doesn’t have to play any defense or concentrate on anything other than his swing that night) get 35 minutes to pick apart every tendency from every angle of every pitcher he faces?

Meanwhile, all of the other players on the field have to worry about hitting and defensive responsibilities. Pitchers have to worry about nine different hitters, plus how their own stuff is playing that night. Nobody else has time to pick things apart like Cruz and other DH’s. Also, if you are watching replays that repeatedly, that methodically and with that much detail, aren’t you bound to to come across things you shouldn’t be seeing. The instant replay screens in the dugout just don’t really make sense, from the start.

Other Leagues

Not all leagues have instant replay available to teams during games. For example, the NFL still doesn’t. With coaches like Bill Belichick and what players could find out from instant replay, the league and its teams aren’t comfortable with anything beyond old school snapshots… though they do house those photos on ipads…

The NBA just started allowing instant replay availability in September, 2016. I’m not really sure what kind of information you could gain a cheating advantage with in basketball unless you are in the timeout circles. I’m not sure cheating comes into play with basketball.

The NHL started expanding video replay to the bench around the same time as the NBA. Again, I’m not sure how you would cheat with video replay in the NHL. Everything is moving so quickly and players are coming and going from the bench so often, there’s only so much you can gleam from the video.

Other Players and Coaches Agree with Cruz

It isn’t just Cruz who is upset with these new instant replay rules. Other players around the league have been voicing their displeasure all season. In the article from The Athletic, we also get quotes from Jorge Polanco and Rocco Baldelli. The Minnesota Twins manager points to other ways teams were using the video.

“…the players also have things to say during the game too about calls and sometimes the players are right and sometimes the players are wrong,” Baldelli said. “And there is no way during the game for us to know what is right and what is wrong. And that becomes challenging. We don’t run down and look at every call. I don’t think we do a ton of complaining and arguing during the game. But it is nice to know when a call is proper or not.”

Rocco Baldelli | via The Athletic

I have an idea… put the ball/strike calls and close plays up on the big screen, when they take place (like in every other sport). If you can’t tell from there, then move on with your life. Baseball is the last sport that needs fast instant replay immediately accessible to players in the dugout.

Again, these excuses seem like pretty cheap reasons to give dugout instant-replay back to MLB hitters. I know the league doesn’t want to fully open this can of worms… but we don’t know how deep the video abuse spread throughout the league. The current investigations are still ongoing. Can we at least wait until we know what the accused teams are doing?

Players will adjust and the better ones, who adapt and prepare the best, will thrive. That includes Nelson Cruz, which we are already seeing. If Cruz wants to cry anymore about this during 2020, he has someone close to him who he can blame.

Marwin Gonzalez won a World Series MVP by watching replays and banging trash cans. Twins players and coaches can turn to him when they have questions about what the MLB is doing, regarding this replay issue.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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